Young Storytellers Show Off at the National Youth Storytelling Showcase
by Bennie McCann © 2009, All Rights Reserved

Join an audience from across the United States as they flock to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for the annual National Youth Storytelling Showcase (NYSS), scheduled in June 2010. The successor to the National Youth Storytelling Olympics, this exciting event is sure to keep you enthralled throughout, with excellent performances by 20 storytellers all under the age of 17. As a true celebration of the art, the NYSS has quickly become a very popular addition to the Annual Smoky Mountains Storytelling Festival, now going on its 19th year.

Even professional storytellers like Donald Davis and Andy Offutt Irwin agree: these kids bring a certain electricity to the medium that is obvious to all who attend. In fact, after viewing last year’s performances, Andy exclaimed, “I fear for my job as a storyteller…these youth tellers will be getting all of my gigs!”

Expect the unexpected, with kids breaking out in song and speaking in wild accents as they tell their stories. Some even incorporate instruments to really bring the tales to life.

The selection process is designed to make sure that the storytellers participating in the NYSS itself are the best in the country. All 50 states have one representative responsible for nominating up to five potential tellers from their jurisdiction. These nominees each send a videotaped performance to a national committee based in Pigeon Forge. From there, the entries are narrowed down to the 20 finalists, who travel to Tennessee for the competition.

The competition culminates in a concert held during the evening, with each young teller having the opportunity to share his or her best story in front of the crowd. Judges keenly observe and evaluate participants according to a number of different criteria, including their potential for ambassadorship in the storytelling world. Winners are chosen to be “Special Youth Storytelling Torchbearers” in three distinct age groups, along with one duo selected as the triumphant tandem group. Finally, a single “GRAND Storytelling Torchbearer” is elected by the judges.

Do you have a young storyteller who would is interested in competing?  The deadline for submitting entries to state representatives is February 15, 2010 so contestants need to work fast. The event is scheduled for June 10 - 12, 2010.

You can expect some exciting awards as well. Every Finalist appearing in the Showcase in February is presented with both a trophy as well as a cash award of $100. The winners of each age group are awarded $300, and the Grand Torchbearer receives $500. Additionally, all lodging and some meals is provided.

The adult Annual Smoky Mountain Storytelling Festival is also scheduled for June 10-12, 2010, and features many of the country’s premier teller, such as Mary Hamilton and Mountain Man Bob Phillips. That gives you an even better reason to visit the Smokies this summer.

You’ll love the National Youth Storytelling Showcase. It’s a great example of what kids can do when you allow their imagination to run free, and that’s something anyone can appreciate.

Bennie McCann is Reservations Manager of Volunteer Cabin Rentals specializing in mountain cabins in the Smokies near Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN. Visit our rental cabins page today to book cabins for weddings, vacations, reunions and other special events.